Being a Kashmiri, conflict has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Right from my childhood, I have been a witness to the atrocities of the so-called security forces, the killings of innocents, clashes among the militant organisations, crackdowns, civilian parades, blackouts, civil curfews, the creation of Ikhwan (Nabidis) and the destruction that followed. I have witnessed the extinction of several militant outfits, the intermittent silence, the division of separatists as well as the creation of new mainstream parties like the PDP, the 2008 turbulence followed by the 2010 unrest.
Despite the raging conflict around me, I like many of my peers, continued with my studies but as is common, employment in the public sector proved to be a disappointment due to the dearth of opportunities. After finding the local businesses quite unprofessional and unethical, I decided to step into the world of entrepreneurship not knowing exactly as to how complicated it was going to be in a conflict zone like Kashmir. In 2011, I moved on with a business plan but the attitude of our authorities was so appalling that I got dejected after following my business project for almost two years. When I got an opportunity to partner with an affluent businessman, I got into a joint venture without wasting any time. I continued with my business despite the highly volatile atmosphere in the valley for three years, from 2013 to 2016, with regular expected hiccups. But in July the death of Burhan Wani, who had become the poster boy of militancy in Kashmir, brought the valley businesses to a standstill. A new wave of resistance was blowing throughout the valley after his death and to curb this new wave of resistance, government forces resorted to atrocities and the alienation deepened.
In a valley where innocent people are being killed every single day, business is nobody’s concern till peace arrives and for peace to prevail, referendum is the only solution. I, a once enthusiastic businessman, today regret the investment I made in my business for starting your own business is both full of risks as well as unprofitable in our trouble-torn Kashmir. I have a kid whom I want to give a good education as I have come to realise that education is the most important thing for personality development as well as the development of the society. But the psychology of our children in this beleaguered valley is developed as such that it has a considerable impact on their brains and hence on their education. I believe that Kashmir will be the only state in our country where children as young as 3 years know the definition of words like guns, bullets, tear-gas, pepper-gas, pellets, curfews, hartals, killings etc.
It wouldn’t be wrong to mention that if the current streak of continuing strikes fail to get us to a final solution, we will for sure continue to witness similar cycles of brutalities followed by strikes and unrests time and again. The sad thing is that if these unrests continue, we will end up losing our businesses, our education and above all our people. Thus, to put an end to the miseries of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, we must have a reliable leadership that is strong enough to make India, Pakistan and Kashmiris come together for a consensus on the referendum under the supervision of UN. This is the only solution to Kashmir dispute. Anything less is only going to be a temporary fix to a problem which will with time evolve into an uncontainable fire that will scorch both the countries as well as us.
Until and unless Kashmir dispute is resolved, the entrepreneurship as well as education cannot be fancied to attain heights that are important for the development of a nation or a society. I really hope for the day when this oppression will end and our future generations will live in a peaceful environment. May Allah, the Almighty, come to our rescue and put an end to this oppression and make this land of Kashmir a peaceful one. Let’s all pray for prevalence of sane, democratic and sympathetic sense among all the stakeholders involved so that we can live in peace and prosper.
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